The excellent The engines cannae take it blog recently posted a beginners guide for STO which among other things contains very useful information about skills, a very useful resource for new players. You can read the part of the article which is specific to skills right here so be sure to familiarize yourself with the basics before you go ahead and plan your skills.
Your captain can purchase in a wide variety of skills, which provide bonuses to various aspects of your character. Skills are purchased with skill points (SP), the STO version of experience points which are gained by completing missions and fighting opponents.
Skill Groups and Tiers
The Skills in STO are arranged into groups by similar function and tiers by rank. For example, the Starship Energy Weapons group contains skills that increase your effectiveness with energy weapons (beams and cannons) in space combat:
Within the group, the skills are arrange into 5 tiers according to the minimum rank required to purchase the skill, from left to right. Thus a captain can purchase the Starship Energy Weapons Training skill at Lieutenant (Tier 1, far left), but must be promoted to Lt Commander before being able to buy the Starship Beam Weapons and Starship Cannon Weapons skills (Tier 2, second from left), and all the way to Admiral before being able to access the Starship Antiproton Weapons and Starship Polaron Weapons skills (Tier 5, far right).
Note that there is no rigid skill ‘tree’ in STO – you do not, for example, need to buy Starship Energy Weapons Training before you can buy Starship Beam Weapons or Starship Cannon Weapons. The only restrictions are your captain’s rank and available unspent skill points.
All captains have access to the following skill groups:
- Starfleet Training
- Starship Energy Weapons
- Starship Projectile Weapons
- Starship Engineering
- Starship Operations
In addition, each class has a unique skill group:
- Tactical captains get the Tactical Officer group
- Engineer captains get the Engineering Officer group
- Science captains get the Science Officer group
Skill Levels and Costs
All skills in STO have 9 levels. Your captain starts with no levels in any skills, and purchases skill levels with skill points.
The cost of a skill level depends on the tier of the skill:
|Skill Tier||SP per Skill Level|
|2 (Lt Commander)||200|
How Skills Work – The Basics
Each level in a skill grants a bonus to specific aspects of your character. For example, the Starship Energy Weapons Training skill increases the damage of all energy weapons on your ship. The more levels you have in the skill, the greater the damage bonus.
The effects of the different skills can be broadly broken down according to the skill groups:
- Starfleet Training skills either increase the speed, turn rate and hull strength of ships (the ‘Command’ and ‘Captain’ skills) or increase the effectiveness of your bridge officer’s ground abilities and some space abilities (the ‘Team Leader’ skills)
- Starship Energy Weapons skills boost the damage done by energy weapons
- Starship Projectile Weapons skills boost the damage done by projectile weapons
- Starship Engineering skills generally boost the effectiveness of Engineer abilities, although some also have secondary effects on your ship’s power generation and repair rate
- Starship Operations skills generally boost the effectiveness of Science abilities
- The class-specific Tactical/Engineering/Science Officer skills boost the effectiveness of your captain’s ground abilities
What Affects What
All ships, space weapons and most abilities are affected by three different skills, and the bonus from each skill stacks. In most cases, each ship, weapon or ability is affected by one Lieutenant (Tier 1) skill, one Lt Commander (Tier 2) skill, and one Commander, Captain or Admiral (Tier 3, 4 or 5) skill.
For example, the damage of a phaser beam array is boosted by Starship Energy Weapons Training (Tier 1), Starship Beam Weapons (Tier 2) and Starship Phaser Weapons (Tier 3), while the speed, turn rate and hull strength of an Assault Cruiser is affected by Starship Command (Tier 1), Cruiser Captain (Tier 2) and Assault Cruiser Captain (Tier 5).
In the case of the ship and weapon skills, then, it’s normally fairly easy to see which three skills will affect something. In the case of abilities, you can see which skills affect them by opening the Ability window (press ‘P’), selecting the skill and reading the information on the right-hand side.
For example, the Emergency Power to Weapons I ability is affected by your Starship Warp Core Training (T1), Starship Weapon System Maintenance (T2) and Starship Weapon Efficiency (T3) skills:
For more advanced details on how skills function, how their bonuses are calculated and a lot of numbers, see this Skills Guide article.